A Case for a Larger Israel

By Ted Belman

My friend Nathan Shuster on behalf of IsraPundit interview with lawyer David Naggar, author of A Case for a Larger Israel

A Case for a Larger Israel is a most important primer on the antecedents of the Israel-Arab wars, not only for those who have become fuzzy on the origins of the “problem,” but also an extremely useful resource for those who are intimately involved. With a treasure trove of maps, charts, and historical and Quranic citations, the book is a fount of information. Unlike the solutions proposed over the last fifty years that appear to be a rehashing of what has failed many times before, David Naggar, a California advocate, dares to suggest a radical departure from the tried and tired. A Case for a Larger Israel may prove to be the true “road map” to Israel’s future prosperity, security and eventual peace.

Welcome Mr. Naggar to IsraPundit and congratulations on a most important contribution to the literature on the subject which even after almost sixty years continues to evade solution.

David Naggar:
Thank you Nat.

You begin your book by revealing to the reader the simple device used by lawyers when their clients are sued—the counter suit. Why do you think Israel never resorted to this courtroom counter-suit device when dealing with the Arabs?
You’re referring to the author’s note. I’ve actually had it taken out of the second printing because it put too many people off (laugh out loud). Actually, words really matter, and the title of the book, The Case for a Larger Israel, resonates negatively with many folks even though they agree with the book’s content. So I figured why make things worse by being a lawyer about it. I was told to name the book something like “Securing Israel’s Future” but that title would have put me to sleep.

Seriously though, from a lawyer’s view, Israel has a great deal to benefit from standing up to its enemies and making larger demands. The settlement between Israel and its neighbors, if there is to be one, will be between two competing views that vie for international support—one put forth by the Palestinians/Muslims/Arab and one put forth by Israel. The not-so-secret is this: the world powers don’t really care about a just and proper settlement. They just want to avoid a situation that could spill over into neighboring countries and interfere with global economic prosperity.

Nat, remember when Prime Minister Sharon refused to meet with Arafat? The world eventually came around to Sharon’s thinking. It wasn’t a matter of agreeing with Sharon. It was a matter of the “peacemakers” understanding that Sharon wasn’t going anywhere, and dealing with Arafat was a deal-breaker for Sharon.

If Israel doesn’t advance a competing vision to the one that demands that Israel leave the territories, the world powers will simply follow the path of least resistance and push Israel out. That is what is occurring now bit by bit.

But, if Israel presented a credible counter case explaining why it must keep the territories, the world powers would try to solve the Israel-Palestinian/Muslim/Arab problem another way.

Now this brings me the long way around to actually answering—well at least trying to answer—your question (laugh out loud).

Why the leaders of Israel don’t seem to use this common sense courtroom tactic is beyond me. Perhaps Israeli leaders aren’t united enough to apply this concept in practice for fear that they will be toppled if the opposition accuses them of war mongering and such. It’s a real pity.

How important are the Jewish people’s historical claims to the land and why, do you think, Israel fails to emphasize these legitimate ownership claims when communicating with their adversaries, or even with their friends?


I think ownership claims are less important than current political realities because solutions are politically driven. Palestinians have ownership claims too, though some don’t like to hear that.

“Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling state but one that is capable of vigorous and independent national life.” You don’t get around to quoting The London Times of the period till well into your book. This citation is really the very heart of your work. Although your thesis of the necessity of a larger Israel is most convincing to us, how do we convince the great powers of supporting this enlargement because it is the moral thing to do?

The truth is, from a moral point, we don’t. Great powers, for the most part, act in their own self-interest. Morality can percolate up from citizens to leaders, it won’t happen for Israel the other way around.

So we have to appeal to their self-interest. This is tactically important. When all the arguments are boiled down, it is important that a thriving Israel, rather than a tiny failed nuclear Israel be seen to be in other countries’ self-interest.

This is one reason to tout Israeli achievements in science, medicine and energy. Israeli good works should be plastered all over You-Tube.

Other countries’ self-interest is also a reason to make sure that Israeli trade is important enough to enough people in enough countries so that their leaders will know that cutting Israel off will hurt back at home.

I.P. Did the importance of Jewish contribution to Germany stop Hitler?

No, and that is why Israel, as the only Jewish majority state, needs to be self -sufficient. It must be viable in all respects, not just in good global economic trading times. In the book I go through many aspects of what it means to be viable and why Israel isn’t viable as things stand today. I do hope Israpundit readers will have a look.

I detail why Israel must be larger—to be truly independent, to have ample natural resources, and to actually be able to do more good for humanity.

There is a fair amount of self-interest to motivate other countries to support a viable Israel. But they must be educated about it. It is simply a matter of truth that Jews around the globe and Jews of Israel contribute a disproportionate share of the good things of life. Twenty two percent of all Noble prize-winners have at least one Jewish parent. Think about that for a group of people that makes up much less than one percent of the world’s population.

The words “population resettlement” have a specific traumatic resonance to the Jewish people and that’s why they recoil from any proposal that has it as a solution to the problem of demographic “ticking bombs.” Does that not put Israel at a tremendous disadvantage, and how is this to be overcome?

Let’s bring this to a human level. If you get thrown out of your house, you’d be mad as heck. But if you were not forced to leave, but rather offered all manner of incentive to leave, you might decide to do it. With enough incentive, money or other, your friends and family would eventually tell you you’d be nuts not to leave.

Mass involuntary population resettlement caused Israel to stop existing in the first place. Voluntary population resettlement also allowed for Israel to reemerge in the last century. Without mass population resettlement, there would have never been Arabs outside of Arabia.

Like most people today, I am instinctively repulsed by the idea of forced population resettlement. But voluntary resettlement is another matter. Millions of Mexicans have voluntarily resettled in the United States with no assistance. Forget the politics of it for a moment; this was an economic vote with feet, and one fraught with personal peril. Populations move.

Encouraging Palestinians to voluntarily resettle with huge financial gain and better opportunities to thrive is not repulsive; it is wise. But the benefits of doing this must be explained.

Also, and let’s be honest about this, both you, I presume, and I are repulsed by the idea of a failed Israel. If push came to shove, strictly on moral grounds, the existence of one viable Jewish state with all the good it does for humanity trumps the hardship that might be imposed on Palestinians from being denied the opportunity to form a 22nd Arab state.

And do keep this in mind. There is plenty of room in the Middle East for everyone. There is no moral reason for the international community to crowd Jews and Palestinian Arabs into such a tiny area. But as I said, morality is not the focus of the great powers.

You write of the justice of Israel’s cause in pursuit of larger territory as a guarantor of the future and of the need for this idea to be “embraced poetically in the heart of the world’s people”. What is this exactly and how is this to be accomplished?

This is the moral argument to be made at the people level, rather than at the leader level. Israel is losing this battle everywhere but in the United States. If people believe Israel is, for the most part, on the right side of the morality question, then it’s harder for leaders to pressure Israel. This is a matter of telling and retelling Israel’s story in a compassionate and natural way so that people embrace Israel as their own. Israel is not so good at PR.

This, incidentally, is where historical claims can matter.

The only reason that Jews will be staying in Jerusalem under any internationally inspired settlement plan is because Jews not staying in Jerusalem is understood to be a non-starter in any settlement discussion. If the world’s people didn’t appreciate the Jewish claim, the Muslim argument that Jerusalem is the third holiest city in all of Islam would simply prevail and Jews would be expected, eventually, to leave.

In the same manner, in my view it should be a non-starter for anyone to propose that Jews be forbidden to live in Hebron. But forbidding Jews in Hebron is the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim position, and the international community does not challenge this. Why should Jews be forbidden from living in Hebron? As the original Jewish birthplace and second holiest city to Jews, the suggestion that Jews be forbidden from living there must take on the status of a non-starter for any peacemaker to even suggest.

Can you imagine if some group in the future forbade Americans from living in Philadelphia, where the U.S. declaration of independence was written? Forbidding Hebron to the Jews should sound just as silly, heartless really, to any one who hears it.

Poetically people don’t think Jews should leave Jerusalem. Efforts should be made to educate people around the globe so that they have the same poetic feeling about Jews and Hebron.

I particularly liked your citations from the Quran which are surprisingly Jew-and-Israel-friendly. Considering that present day Muslims are being poisoned by rabidly anti-Semitic clerics, how do we encourage Muslim masses and their religious authorities to rediscover that other Quran?

By bringing it up. I think the Prime Minister of Israel should cite the verses of the Quran that I cite in the book at every opportunity. I think the President of the United States should too. Pretending that the Quran is not an important component of war and peace is like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.

And when the Quran is cited by non-Muslims, let Arab religious leaders denounce the speakers if they are so inclined. To denounce, they will first have to acknowledge what the verse says, and then literate Muslims may look it up, and ask questions for themselves.

Because you understand that “goodwill, by itself, is unlikely ever to work,” you conclude with the imperative that if Israel’s need for territorial viability leads to war, the Jewish state must be supported by all those who wish it well, for “the choice is between viability through war or a slow death…” Would you consider your conclusion rather brutally stark?

If the choice is between viability through war, or a slow steady death accompanied by growing moral decay, war is moral. Does that sound brutal and stark? I suppose so. If it is true that Israel in its present boundaries cannot survive in the long-term except as a failed nuclear power, then those boundaries must be changed.

Of course, much like I hope the United States will not have to exercise the last resort of taking military action against Iran to stop its nuclear ambition, the reality is, taking force off the table in any negotiation increases the chances that it will have to be used down the road. Israel’s needs could, and should be met without war. It is not a Jewish desire to war.

By refocusing the international conversation towards the size Israel should be in order to be self-sustaining and viable in the long run, and by focusing on ways for Palestinians to have better options than to be part of a feckless and impoverished fractured mini-state, solutions that do not involve war can be found and implemented. The first step, for the sake of Israel and Palestinian people is to simply move the international community away from the idea of imposing an unworkable two-state solution. When the two-state solution is understood by world leaders to be unworkable, they will seek out better ideas.

Let me say in concluding this exchange that the very introduction of this topic, “Viability of Israel lies in its growing size,” is a great contribution as a topic for discussion to those who negotiate on behalf of the State of Israel and to those of us who are concerned with its healthy and secure future. Thank you very much, Mr. Naggar, for a thoughtful and insightful interview.

Your welcome Nat. And do let folks know to get the book and put it on their coffee table so their friends can see it. If many of us work together, we can all help change the terms of the international debate, and in the end, the outcome of that debate.

(To actually put a copy on your coffee table, The Case for a Larger Israel is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. It can also be ordered from your local bookstores—ed.)

DaJe Publishing, San Francisco
243 pages, $14.95 paper
ISBN: 978-1-57746-580-5

August 30, 2007 | Comments Off on A Case for a Larger Israel

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